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a chronicler of hardship and heartache, loves won and lost, heroes and villains...

a chronicler of hardship and heartache, loves won and lost, heroes and villains

Music at the movies/Spider Barbour


Tom Pacheco has a remarkable memory, and memories. In casual conversation his real-life stories have a novelistic sweep of detail and a heartfelt poignancy. At his home in Woodstock last week he recounted his very first memory. Tom was two and a half or three years old. It was early morning and he was just coming down the stairs in his family's New England farmhouse. Lit by the sun's first rays, sitting on a chair was an f-hole sunburst Gibson L-4 guitar. That's what you call a good, and accurate, premonition.
We in the Woodstock neighborhood know Pacheco as our premier balladeer, a chronicler of hardship and heartache, loves won and lost, heroes and villains local, national and global. Like Guthrie, Dylan, Springsteen, Van Zandt, Waits, Zevon and the entire list, Tom Pacheco lives it and tells it in his songs. Of all these voices his is as unique, deep and passionate as any. Growing up on his grandfather's Massachusetts farm, Tom found inspiration listening to jam sessions of his jazz guitarist dad Tony and his musical friends from all corners of the country. After high school Tom hit the road to New York City, spending an extended decade in the 60s Greenwich Village folk scene. He moved up to Woodstock in '79, and stuck around through the 80s, gracing many a pub and club, none more so than Mt. Tremper's marvelous White Water Depot, run in the most welcoming way by the late lamented Billy Twigg. Pacheco followed his star and muse across the USA (Los Angeles, Austin, Nashville) and across the Atlantic to Ireland for the nebulous 90s, made a lot of friends and fans, and played, wrote and recorded with European musicians. Tom's still collaborating with distant friends, most recently with the Scandanavian folk duo Hoel and Albrigtsen on a collection of songs celebrating biodiversity. In '97 he came home to Woodstock again and rejoined the scene.

(DROP CAP) Pacheco's artistic stirrings lead him beyond poetry and melody. The man is also an accomplished oil painter. The walls of his work room display an early self-portrait and a lovely seascape. Painted bottles, flasks and vases sit on the shelves.
With old and new friends and neighbors Tom has witnessed the bad start of this new millennium and felt the heartland's heartache. Personal heartbreak the loss of his father, brother, beloved dog Lily, and ten years ago his dear friend Rick Danko was so devastating that he stopped writing and playing for several years, something he had never done. Lately Pacheco has been feeling his energy returning and his spirits on the rise. With tormenting memories settling into his comfort zone, Tom felt it was time to take his recent life experience back to the music.
Pacheco's just-finished collection of new songs assembled under the title "I'll Leave a Light on for You" is dedicated to Danko. Tom continues to honor the Band bassist's wee-hour appearances outside his living room window, and the happy singing and songwriting sessions that followed, by lighting a candle in the window on Rick's birthday (December 29) and keeping it burning through the night.

(DROP CAP) Our town's intrepid troubadour returns to the stage this Sunday, November 29 for "Music at the Movies" at the Tinker St. Cinema in Woodstock (132 Tinker St.). On the set list are half a dozen of the new songs, and a lot of old favorites from down the years. Accompanying Pacheco will be Bluegrass Clubhouse guitarist (and Woodstock Times editor) Brian Hollander. Don't miss the return of one of our most prolific and admired songwriters. Showtime is 8 p.m. Admission is $10. ++

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